Jewish Humor

Jewish humor is a treasured part of Judaism for most Jews. As comic writer Harry Golden once wrote, "Humor has been so much a part of the Jewish culture that any kind of activity at all is impossible without it." We included a number of our favorite Jewish jokes in Chapter 25 of Judaism For Dummies. Here are even more of our favorite Jewish jokes:

In the heart of a Russian winter, everyone in town is standing in line waiting for the new shipment of meat. After waiting for an hour in the freezing cold, an official announces that there will be less meat than expected, so the Jews should all go home. After another hour, it has started snowing and the official announces that there will be even less meat coming, so all non-communists should leave. Finally, after another hour, the official says that there’s no meat coming, so everyone should just go home. Trudging through the snow, one communist turns to his friend and say, "You see, Comrade, the Jews always get to go home first."

While there is much scientific and religious controversy over when, exactly, the moment of life begins, the Jewish tradition is clear: The fetus is not considered viable until after it graduates from medical school.

An elderly Jewish man in Miami calls his son in New York and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams. "We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the old man says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her," and he hangs up.

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like hell they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this." She calls Miami immediately, and screams at the old man, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone, too, and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "they're coming for Passover. Now what do we tell them for Rosh Hashanah?"

As King Arthur inspected his troops, he noticed that in the midst of all his men in shining armor, one man sat in dull, even rusty armor. King Arthur angrily turned to his lieutenant and demanded, "Ma nishtana ha-leilah ha-zeh?"*

*"Why is this night different from all other nights?"

A man calls his mother in Florida. "Mom, how are you?"

"Not too good" replies his mother, "I've been very weak".

The son asks, "Why are you so weak?"

She says, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days."

"That's terrible" says the son, "Why haven't you been able to eat?"

The mother answers, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food in case you should call me."

Four Haikus for Jews

David Bader has quietly stormed the Jewish world with his book Haikus for Jews, proving that mixing a Jewish sensibility with an ancient Japanese form of poetry can prove hilarious. Perhaps other cross-cultural experiments should be attempted: gefilte fish sushi, perfumes smelling of chicken soup... well, perhaps not. Here’s a few of our favorite Bader haikus:

Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?

Left the door open
for the Prophet Elijah.
Now our cat is gone.

Wet moss on the old
stone path -- flat on my back, I
ponder whom to sue

A lovely nose ring --
excuse me while I put my
head in the oven

Glossary of Lesser-known Jewish words

JEWBILATION n. Pride in finding out that one's favorite celebrity is Jewish.

TORAHFIED n. Inability to remember one's lines when called to read from the Torah at one's Bar or Bat mitzvah.

SANTASHMANTA n. The explanation Jewish children get for why they celebrate Hannukah while the rest of humanity celebrates Christmas

MATZILATION v. Smashing a piece of matzo to bits while trying to butter it.

BUBBEGUM n. Candy one's mother gives to her grandchildren that she never gave to her own children.

CHUTZPAPA n. A father who wakes his wife at 4:00 a.m. so she can change the baby's diaper.

DEJA NU n. Having the feeling you've seen the same exasperated look on your mother's face but not knowing exactly when.

DISORIYENTA n. When Aunt Sadie gets lost in a department store and strikes up a conversation with everyone she passes..

GOYFER n. A Gentile messenger.

HEBORT vb. To forget all the Hebrew one ever learned immediately after one's Bar Mitzvah

JEWDO n. A traditional form of self defense based on talking one's way out of a tight spot.

MAMATZAH BALLS n. Matzo balls that are as good as mother or grandmother used to make.

MEINSTEIN slang. "My son, the genius."

MISHPOCHAMARKS n. The assorted lipstick and make-up stains found on one's face and collar after kissing all one's aunts and cousins at a reception.

RE-SHTETLEMENT n. Moving from Brooklyn to Miami and finding all your old neighbors live in the same condo as you.

ROSH HASHANA-NA n. A rock 'n roll band from Brooklyn.

YIDENTIFY vb. To be able to determine ethnic origins of celebrities even> though their names might be St. John, Curtis, Davis, or Taylor.

MINYASTICS n. Going to incredible lengths and troubles to find a tenth person to complete a minyan.

FEELAWFUL n. Indigestion from eating Israeli street food.

DISKVELLIFIED vb. To drop out of law school, med school or business school, as seen through the eyes of parents, grandparents, and Uncle Sid. In extreme cases, simply choosing to major in art history when Irv's son, David, is majoring in biology, is sufficient grounds

Links to Other Jewish Humor Sites

Like most Jewish jokes on the Internet these days, these jokes were either told to us or sent to us without attribution. If you know of a proper copyright holder, please let us know.